Parks opts not to stop traffic for summer surveys

The Pacific Rim National Park has altered their summer survey plan and will not, after all, be stopping traffic along the Pacific Rim Highway this summer.

During last week’s Tofino council meeting, Tofino Mayor Josie Osborne said Pacific Rim National Park staff would be standing at both ends of the Park along the Pacific Rim Highway and stopping each driver to tell them about the survey from June-August.

“I know this is inconvenient for local residents but the survey provides a lot of really valuable data about where people are visiting from why they’ve come here and what they’re doing while they’re here,” Osborne said.

“Anything we can we can do to help local residents understand that a small inconvenience is worth the data being collected is, I think, a good thing.”

An council report published by the Westerly News on Tuesday evoked strong reaction online as readers expressed frustration that the Park’s surveys would slow their highway commute.

By late last week, the park strategy was altered and the surveys will be conducted in key areas within the park to avoid disrupting highway traffic.

“This will cause less disruption to the area and we think we can make it as effective as long as we are able to reach a significant number of visitors,” said Parks Canada communications officer Laura Judson. She said highway stops were never cemented in the survey’s planning to begin with.

“As we were thinking it through, we thought this was another approach we could do that would cause less disruption,” she said.

The Park’s surveys will collect information about visitor demographics like the ages of visitors, where they’re visiting from and the activities they participate in while they’re here.

More detailed information is collected from mailed out surveys to willing participants.

Pacific Rim National Park superintendent Jim Morgan said the Park’s visitor surveys are a key tool to measure the Park’s performance and better serve visitors.

“By speaking with approximately 2,000 visitors, we get a sense of who visits the park and what they are hoping to experience,” he said.

“We also find out how well we are meeting visitor expectations. This insight is a guiding factor as we strive to improve park services and facilities for visitors. If we can better meet our visitor’s needs, they are more likely to return or recommend the park to others. Both Tofino and Ucluelet can benefit from a stronger regional tourism offer and more visitors.”

reporter@westerlynews.ca